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Death, happiness, and the calculation of compensatory damages

By A.J. Oswald and N. Powdthavee

Abstract

This paper presents a study of the mental distress caused by bereavement. The greatest emotional losses are from the death of a spouse, the second greatest from the death of a child, and the third from the death of a parent. The paper explores how happiness regression equations might be used in tort cases to calculate compensatory damages for emotional harm and pain and suffering. We examine alternative well-being variables, discuss adaptation, consider the possibility that bereavement affects someone's marginal utility of income, and suggest a procedure for correcting for the endogeneity of income. Although the paper's contribution is methodological and further research is needed, some illustrative compensation amounts are discussed

Topics: 3308
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1086/595674
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:5504

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